17 October 2012
Government works with Goal50 on expansion of original project
During two recent trips to Cape Town Goal50 has had positive talks with the government over the purchase of a plot of land adjoining the training pitches of Great Commission United Soccer Academy (GCU). Through dialogue the project has grown as the government are eager to build a day-care centre on the site as well as the planned orphanage. As a result, the funding target has increased to £160k.
The benefits will be immense to a community where unemployment stands at 80% and gang activity is on the increase. GCU is non-profit making soccer academy and supports the township people of Heideveld in the Cape Flats of Cape Town. It’s an area beset with social problems – unemployment, over-crowding, drug and alcohol dependency, violence and gangsterism. GCU not only keeps children off the streets through it’s football coaching, it has expanded into a wider range of community activities and life skills. For many, this is their only escape from the cycle of gangs and drugs.
For the past two years GCU has been attached to one of the worst performing primary schools in the Western Cape and has offered practical help by re-building toilet blocks and restoring vandalised school buildings which the academy uses for their after-school programme. Coaches and volunteers (many reformed offenders) also help over-stretched teachers by tutoring in basic maths and English and run a feeding programme for those who come to the school with empty stomachs.
Many children come not to learn, but for the luxury of a bowl of porridge. GCU currently works with 300 boys and girls from 7 to 19yrs. The girls are coached in skipping and basketball. Ex-gangster Mario van Niekerk set up the academy twelve years ago with a vision to build an orphanage within the academy. Goal50 has been set up to help his dream become reality.